What a year. Another one of those big ones that you think about in a decade and wonder how a year of upswings and route changes could all fit into that suitcase. I'm going to look back at the good, the quiet, the simple, and the reassuring moments that came from "the great yesterday" that I'm still reeling from.
It's an unspoken tradition for my family to lose at hockey. My grandpa didn't make the division three team and instead played an afterschool program in college, my sister was a part-time referee, and I was more or less "just a fan." Even so, we all liked to meet in the middle of the pond with a yearly game of family hockey. I tested the thickness of the ice first with a hearty stomp. Since I didn't plunge through the ice like last year, we divvied up the teams and got started. But Dad forgot to bring the goals so we used snow boots as goal posts and just had a fun time with it.
There was a week or two peppered into the summer where I was wondering if social media was melting my eyes, so I followed up with my friend to see if it was too late to hitch a ride to the lake for a three-day weekend hang at the cabin.
"Hey, can I join you guys? I need to get out of here."
"Oh, no worries, another time."
"JK. Duh, let's go."
I had some work to finish up at the office but my friends picked me up on their way out. I changed into chino shorts and a short sleeve tee and threw my canvas tote in the back, prepped with all the right beach stuff: UPF 50 rash guard shirt for a lazy boat day basking in the sun, beach towels, a pair of goggles, a couple paperclips, a crumpled up receipt, and mysterious sand in the bottom of the bag. Once we pulled up the dusty driveway we were still trying to figure out what the difference between bathing suits and swimsuits were, but with no cell reception we would just go on and on about it, eventually getting swim tees involved in the debate.
I threw the tent in the back of my car, the canvas tote came along to help me carry some of the camping gear, snacks, and a packable jacket, and then I blasted out of town for the hills. I won't say where I went because it's one of my favorite camping spots and I don't want to ruin all the peace and quiet that I've known it for. The only thing I'll say is that it's next to water, south of Canada. I brought a couple flannel shirts and a cotton sweater. I made my Lands' End flannel the designated campfire shirt since that's the best smell in the world, and it goes really well with flannel. I set up a hammock between two trees, right next to the creek and let all the noise fade as I finally got to finish reading a short story I'd been chipping away at for a decade.
Sometimes you forget that your car has the natural ability to drive to other places than, you know, work and back home and work again. I promised myself an escape for just one day before the holidays got into full swing. I made a stop on my way out of town, grabbed a belated birthday gift, a cashmere sweater, and from there made my way out of the crazy shopping mall traffic toward an afternoon joyride. The day was crisp, the sky was blue, the trees were nearly bare. I had the windows down and kept one of my warmest winter coats on as I made my way up the coastal byway. It was the simple things, the quick and necessary escapes. That's what made a memorable 2018.